The New York Giants offense could have earned, yet another, spot on the weekly Losers list, but it’s redundant at this point - they’re bad. COVID-19 swept through the league in the last week, resulting in three game postponements that make this article lighter than usual. It was a low-scoring Week 15. Here are the winners and losers from the week.
The Detroit Lions faced the 10-3 Arizona Cardinals. The Lions were a true palindrome at 1-11-1 while being 12-point home dogs. Any given Sunday, right (unless you follow the Giants). The Lions embarrass the Cardinals 30-12, effectively ending many people’s survivor pools.
The Lions lost their first overall pick to Jacksonville, but, despite all of their injuries, they’re winning football games under Campbell. The long time positional coach who acted as an interim head coach for the Dolphins and Saints, is incredibly easy to cheer for. The man wears his emotions on his sleeves.
The Lions lost several close football games throughout the season before defeating the Vikings two weeks ago. The team plays incredibly hard for Campbell, and they’re trying to establish the right culture - something that’s evaded the Lions for years. I don’t know how long Campbell will hold this head coaching position, but he certainly knows how to motivate a football team.
It’s not always efficient; it’s certainly not always pretty, but the Steelers are keeping their playoff hopes alive with close victories. They almost pulled off an insane come from behind victory on Thursday Night Football last week, but the Minnesota Vikings found a way to win.
Pittsburgh hosted the Tennessee Titans and somehow won, 19-13. Star receiver Diontae Johnson was contained, the rushing attack was non-existent from Najee Harris, and Pittsburgh was out-possessed by 19 minutes. It’s incredible that the Steelers won this football game, but Pittsburgh’s defense forced four turnovers. Cornerback Joe Haden made a huge tackle on fourth-and-short to secure the Steelers victory. The game was very chippy…
The defense was opportunistic; they forced three fumbles and intercepted Ryan Tannehill. One of the fumbles was whacky.
Pittsburgh is now 7-6-1, on the outside looking into the playoffs. Their chances aren’t likely, but they’re still alive, with three games against potential playoff bound teams. They play the Chiefs in Arrowhead before hosting the Browns and traveling to the Ravens for a Week 18 matchup that can possibly be very important.
A throwback to Thursday Night Football! The Los Angeles Chargers gave the Chiefs everything they could handle in primetime, but Patrick Mahomes found a way to resist Justin Herbert and Brandon Staley. With a loss, the Chiefs would have surrendered the number one seed in the AFC West to the Chargers, so the road victory was imperative for Kansas City’s quest for home field advantage, and a first-round bye week.
Travis Kelce had his best game of the season, finishing with 10 catches for 191 yards, and two touchdowns. The Chargers held the Chiefs offense for most of the game, but the fourth quarter and overtime belonged to Kansas City. The New England Patriots suffered a brutal Saturday loss to a surging Indianapolis Colts team which also really helps the Chiefs case in the AFC.
Dennis Allen and Pete Carmichael
The Saints were without head coach Sean Payton who tested positive with COVID-19 earlier in the week. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen assumed head coaching duties with offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael handling the play calling responsibility. A 9-0 away shutout for the duo is very impressive considering they’re going against Tom Brady and a slew of offensive weapons.
Luckily for the Saints, the Buccaneers suffered several injuries to skilled position players throughout the game, but the Saints defense wasn’t budging much when those players were playing. The Saints pass rush also sacked Brady four times which is 25 percent of the Buccaneers’ allowed sacks prior to Week 15. The Saints may not make the playoffs, but they disrupted the Buccaneers chances of earning a first-round bye.
The Cardinals were out-worked, out-coached, and out-played by a Lions team that had one win heading into this Week 15 matchup. The Cardinals had everything to play for, while the Lions had “nothing” to gain in winning (there’s always something to gain in winning). The Cardinals were currently battling the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first seed in the NFC.
There is only one bye week up for grabs in the playoffs with seven teams now making the postseason. A loss to the Lions against red hot teams like the Packers almost doom the Cardinals chances to have the NFC travel through the valley. It’s a very tough loss for the Cardinals to suffer; luckily for them, the Buccaneers also lost.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Similar to the Cardinals, the Buccaneers were defeated on Sunday despite being favored. Tom Brady struggles against the Saints defense, and he really struggled on Sunday Night Football - he was shut out. The Buccaneers lost, 9-0, and Brady was intercepted once while struggling to get anything going. The last time the No. 1 scoring team in the NFL was shut out at home was in 1970.
New Orleans didn’t have tits head coach and play caller in Sean Payton, who is out on the COVID-19 list, yet the number one scoring team in the NFL could assemble any offense. The thought of Tom Brady being shut out is wild. Yes, there were several injuries sustained by the Buccaneers throughout the game, but there was plenty of scoreless football with those players.
This is a huge win for the Packers who defeated the Ravens on Sunday. The Cardinals and the Buccaneers lost. Will the NFC run through Lambeau Field? If so, that’s very unfortunate for most the NFC contenders who are warm weather teams.
New England Patriots
It is rare to see Bill Belichick lose out of a BYE week, but the Patriots were dominated for much of the 27-17 Saturday Night Football matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. New England failed to contain running back Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 170 yards on 29 carries to go along with a touchdown.
Taylor sealed the victory with a 69-yard touchdown run, after a late Mac Jones’ comeback effort.
Jonathan Taylor reached a top speed of 22.13 mph on his 67-yard game-clinching TD run, the fastest speed by a ball-carrier this season.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 19, 2021
Taylor is now responsible for three of the top 5 fastest plays with the football this season.#NEvsIND | #ForTheShoe pic.twitter.com/RaBQngtWF6
The Colts are now 8-6, just behind the 9-5 Titans. However, Tennessee defeated Indianapolis twice this season. Frank Reich and Carson Wentz are no lock for the playoffs, but a win against the Patriots is a good time to get hot out of their BYE week. As for New England, the Patriots don’t control their fate anymore. The thought of the playoffs running through Foxborough was always terrifying for other NFL teams.